A new study conducted by researchers at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Australia may have just offered answers on the causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Researchers found an enzyme which could help detect babies at risk of SIDS and analysed it to find that its levels were significantly lower in babies who later died of SIDS compared to others who lost their lives due to different causes.
The biomarker is called Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), as noted in the research that was published by the Lancet’s eBioMedicine on Saturday.
“Babies have a very powerful mechanism to let us know when they are not happy,” said Dr. Carmel Harrington, who led the study.
“Usually, if a baby is confronted with a life-threatening situation, such as difficulty breathing during sleep because they are on their tummies, they will arouse and cry out. What this research shows is that some babies don’t have this same robust arousal response.
“This has long been thought to be the case, but up to now we didn’t know what was causing the lack of arousal.
“Now that we know that BChE is involved we can begin to change the outcome for these babies and make SIDS a thing of the past.”
Answers for parents who lost children to SIDS
Harrington, who lost her own child to SIDS 29 years ago, stressed that this study could bring relief to parents who are seeking for answers concerning the sudden death of their babies.
“An apparently healthy baby going to sleep and not waking up is every parent’s nightmare, and until now there was absolutely no way of knowing which infant would succumb. But that’s not the case anymore,” she added.
“This discovery has opened up the possibility for intervention and finally gives answers to parents who have lost their children so tragically. These families can now live with the knowledge that this was not their fault.”